Pro Portfolio: Look inside Barbara Bestor’s ‘floating bungalow,’ part of Venice Garden & Home Tour

Share via

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Every Monday we post a recently built, remodeled or redecorated home with commentary from the designer. This week’s profile will be open to the public during the May 7 Venice Garden & Home Tour.

Architect: Barbara Bestor, with project architect Catherine Johnson and design team members John Colter, Kate Feiertag and Rebecca Rudolph, Bestor Architecture. General contractor: Glenn Lyons Construction, (310) 452-9500. Landscape architect: Stephanie Bartron, SB Garden Design.


Location: Venice

Architect’s description: The ‘floating bungalow’ was developed through a series of models studying the site -- a unique Venice walk street. It is a modernist contemplation on (and reinterpretation of) the working-class bungalows that have long defined the area. The house appears dreamlike, an abstracted bungalow dipped in white and lifted in the air, allowing a loft-like public floor to slip underneath. The upper floor is a white metal cloud. The lower floor is defined by openness and transparency between the public rooms and the outdoor landscape. Charcoal walls dematerialize at sunset, fading to black with just the interior lights illuminating the space below.

The walk-street front of the house, above, is a large porch-like outdoor room open to the neighborhood. When designing the house, we all agreed the front yard should act as a welcoming extension of the neighborhood. While sitting around the fire pit, neighbors and guests alike are afforded a view through the open lower level of the house and beyond to the backyard.

The house’s vertical axis is organized around a multi-functioning stair core. It punctures the white bungalow roof with a black oblong skylight box which reads from the street like an oversized chimney.

Plywood cabinetry functions as built-in ornament. It is another reinterpretation of traditional craftsman woodwork and use of inexpensive material. We used an intentionally generic material and fixture palette throughout, allowing the spatial qualities of the house to be the feature. The kitchen contains a Venice-relevant cultural finish experiment: The island has been ‘murdered’ -- slang for blacking out all detailing on customized cars. (Very ‘Fast and Furious 5’!) Our street-ready, murdered island acts as the central organizing feature of the rear public area.

To see inside, keep reading ...

Custom plywood cabinetry by Eric Lammers of Hammerhead Custom acts as ornament throughout the house and provides a multitude of spaces to store stuff. Here in the dining room/library, the custom bookcase reaches across the front window and doubles as an impromptu bench. The finished concrete slab floor incorporates radiant heat, which when combined with large openings and lots of cross ventilation, helps keep the house at a comfortable temperature year round.

The living area acts as a free-flowing connection between the shelter of the house and the yard. A DJ station at the junction of inside and outside encourages hosts and guests alike to throw a record on.

The “murdered” island acts as a central gathering point between the plywood-clad DJ zone and the vibrant stair core. A custom fluorescent light sculpture plays with energy-efficient, standard-strip fixtures.


The master bedroom affords treehouse-like views of the neighborhood and opens onto a private deck that overlooks the walk street. Wall mounted radiators heat the second level, eliminating the need for forced-air ducting in the house. That enabled us to expose the underside of the asymmetrical roof without interruption.

Walls on the upper level stop short, exposing the asymmetrical ceiling. Frameless glass panels provide acoustic separation for more private areas while maintaining visual transparency.

The “cut out” in the upper-level deck reveals the roof section and invites the master bedroom and bath to open to a private perch above the neighborhood. We used a combination of commercial aluminum storefront windows with residential sliders and doors to create a wall of glass with operable parts.

The large window in the central stair is intended to act as a semi-private art gallery. Neighbors can peek inside and share the installations displayed by the owner over time.

-- Compiled by Lisa Boone

Photo credits: John Ellis

Pro Portfolio appears on this blog every Monday. Submit projects to


Follow future installments by bookmarking L.A. at Home or joining our Facebook page dedicated to California home design.


A Modern ode to a famous neighbor

Barbara Bestor’s SCI-Arc disco

How small is too small?


Venice Garden & Home Tour